Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 50
Chapter 50: Comers and Goers on the Route
No matter how tired I am
No matter how injured I am
As long as I can move
I can catch up to something
Point Allocation (Pride)
Asano was out of breath as she ran. She was racing east through the forest.
…I caaan’t believe this!
She did not seem capable of hitting this enemy. They were fast and had a weak presence, which made it really hard.
She was thankful her spell had been a good fit here. If not, she would have been done for right away.
She ran. She had started moving toward the center, but the enemy had sent her back to the east.
She was glad the forest around her was brighter than M.H.R.R.’s forests.
If anything, it was more like the forest on the Mediterranean desert island where she had trained.
The Ogre teachers who had trained them there had chased after them while shouting “For the love of Onigashima!” and dealing with them had been really hard. And the students had ultimately lost and been thrown into the ocean.
“But have theyyyy had training like that toooo?”
She had assumed the Musashi residents would have difficulty fighting in a natural environment, but was that not actually the case? If anything, they seemed to have as much experience with it as her group.
Musashi did have a lot of immigrants from elsewhere.
…III’m supposed to be smarrrt, so how could I forget abouuut that?
Had it been a case of wishful thinking on her part? But…
“I guessss I should do my best.”
Kani had said that too, but she had already withdrawn.
Nabeshima was more or less out of the fight as well.
And Nagaoka had probably been captured by the enemy. So…
…I’m the onlyyy one left.
So I guess I have to do my best, she decided half in resignation.
She was the last of the rookie name inheritors.
“And,” she said while running and almost jumping through the forest. “All the otherrrs did their best alreadyyy.”
I can’t believe thisss, thought Asano.
I’m smart, but pretty average.
The enemy pursuing her was probably a name inheritor. That was the only explanation for how sharp their pursuit was. Given the enemy’s formation, it was probably…
“Kanouuu or Yagyuuu.”
…It’ll be Yagyuuu.
Kanou was an automaton. She could of course make a pursuit if forest travel knowledge had been installed in her memory, but it made no sense to run into her when Yagyuu had been sent out ahead as a scout.
Yes. Her enemy was a ninja samurai. So…
“I’m in a realll bad position here.”
But she had to do something about it. She had to lose this pursuer and go defeat Ookubo.
…If I can defeat Ookubo Nagayasuuu, it will chaaange things a looot.
At the very least, the negotiations would be easier after the battle ended in some way or another.
So she had to do her best here.
However, she did not know where Ookubo was.
So she had to figure that out from her battle with Yagyuu.
She had a general idea, of course.
The enemy had set up a line and advanced toward the Hashiba base.
Yagyuu had been a bit west of their center, so Ookubo would be behind that somewhere.
What she did not know was how far back from the Hashiba base Ookubo was.
She had seen the scattering wreckage when the small transport ship exploded.
Where the steel beams and armor panels had fallen told her where the “edge” of the safe zone was located.
Ookubo would be somewhere between the Hashiba base and that “edge”.
Asano ran as straight ahead as she could while also avoiding the attacks sent her way.
She felt like she was being guided to the northeast by this pursuit, but she had come from the east to begin with, so she knew the terrain here better than her opponent.
She was confident in her memory.
…But not so much in my staminaaa.
But she still ran. She was running northeast now, but she knew she only had to make a single westward turn to face toward Ookubo again. Yagyuu’s reaction then would tell her where Ookubo was. So…
“Time to do myyy best.”
I’m letting her influence me, aren’t III? she thought. I need to make sure I don’t sayyy that in front of the others, she added. And…
“Testament. Well, I did make a looot of preparations. I even went to the water, so I have a looot.’”
As she said that, she realized the enemy was making their attack.
“Here he cooomes.”
Munenori nearly grazed a bullet.
He ran across the dirt, leaves, and stone and ducked through the branches, but he did not make a sound.
A bullet flew his way. Its aim was accurate but a little off.
Still, projectiles in the forest always had a presence to them. The animals would react and the wind pressure shook the leaves and the night fog.
And he nearly grazed the bullet.
He moved toward the flying bullet.
That did make him feel like he was getting closer to the enemy, but that sense of relief was not his only goal here.
By moving closer to the bullet and sensing how it flew from him, he could work out from which direction it had been fired.
The closer to the bullet he was, the better he could sense its sound and force.
The power contained in the bullets was gradually increasing.
That meant there was less distance between him and where they were being fired from.
In other words, he was approaching the enemy.
That was not a relief. That he was closing in on his enemy was a fact.
He nearly grazed another bullet and inhaled.
He had to reach this enemy and deal with them quickly. Because…
…It would worry her otherwise.
He actually grazed the next bullet.
The sound was loud. He thought it must have scraped his cheek.
A divine protection automatically activated to seal the wound instead of heal it. He would not heal himself in battle. It might be a relief if he did, but the healing process would “change” that portion of his body.
An injury was a change too, but after the initial change, it would stay the same for a while. When constructing a battle, he believed it was safer to understand the fixed changes more than the variable changes.
Healing might actually be better, but it was a matter of feeling.
So he sealed the wound instead. The smell of blood could decide a battle in some cases, so he made sure to stop the bleeding.
But he could only make that kind of decision in short-term battles.
In a longer battle, the injury could change his body through fever or necrosis. In cases like that, he had to heal himself, so he would have to leave the fight to do so.
Hurry, dammit he told himself before smiling bitterly.
He should not be so crude.
Just “hurry” would be fine.
That was what Ookubo had taught him.
So he mentally corrected himself and hurried toward the enemy all the same.
He hurried to catch up.
“We need to hurry, don’t we!?”
Kani spoke with Nabeshima while preparing to carry the injured’s equipment on a rod.
Nabeshima was apparently considering whether or not she should join them here.
Kanitama: “Do you have a connection with Asa-chan!?”
Nabe3: “No, I’ve got some interference plus I have to deal with the mechanical dragon’s divine transmission environment, so wouldn’t you have an easier time connecting to her?”
Kanitama: “No! We can’t reach her either! How about you, Ikeda-kun!?”
IT: “Howw would I haave a connection?”
Kanitama: “That doesn’t sound anything like her!”
Nabe3: “Imagining it coming from Ikeda’s face ruins the whole thing.”
“Shut up,” said Ikeda. And then…
IT: “She’s probably studying like usual.”
IT: “Y’know how she won’t hang out with us before a test? She stops talking and won’t tell anyone what she’s doing. She does that a lot at home. But she seems to think she loses if she lets it show.”
Kanitama: “How do you know about that!?”
IT: “Huh!? Well, my parents are friends with her mom, so…”
Nabe3: “You’re hopeless. You really are.”
Kanitama: “But you’re saying she’s doing that now, aren’t you!?”
Kani lifted up the rod that had four mobile shells hanging from it. She placed her right shoulder below it, lifted her hips, and then raised her body. She made sure to steady her balance before moving.
Kanitama: “Then she’ll be fine! Earlier, she said something about doing her best!”
“Oh?” said Nabeshima.
Nabe3: “It’s unusual for her to say something like that.”
Nabe3: “We just have to wait for the top of our class to do her best and arrive on her own.”
Munenori heard the enemy’s gunshot.
It was close by.
The forest’s trees seemed to be getting denser.
But he pushed on. He continued his pursuit to push the enemy.
He could sense they were close.
…I wonder who it is.
What enemy name inheritors were participating in this battle on the Bousou Peninsula?
Katou Yoshiaki would primarily be fighting in the air.
Kuki Yoshitaka and Suzuki Magoichi had been seen in the fleet battle.
Nabeshima Naoshige had lost in her mechanical dragon and both Kani Saizou and Kasuya Takenori had withdrawn with the northern unit.
Then was this Asano Yoshinaga who had visited the Musashi in Nabeshima’s mechanical dragon?
She was a girl in the same year as him.
But that was no reason to hold back.
She was an enemy.
That was the only reason he had, but it was a sufficient reason.
So he pushed on. He changed his path to run straight toward the enemy.
A bullet flew his way.
He dodged it. Some of his hair scattered in the air as he swung his body to circle around.
…She’s there, isn’t she?
She would be beyond the grove of trees up ahead.
…Here it comes!
It was a bullet and it arrived from so close the sound and force seemed to be within arm’s reach.
It was aimed at his face, so she was not holding back either.
He did not dodge to either side. He lowered his head and slipped between the trees.
“I know you’re there.”
He leaped right in front of the enemy.
And in that instant, he saw something.
Up ahead, at the point where the enemy bullet had come from, he saw the vast night sky.
He only saw the eastern night sky as seen from Bousou and the forest spread out below.
He stood on an entirely abandoned cliff.
Munenori sensed danger in this.
At the same time, he had to ask why.
Why was there a cliff where the enemy should have been?
But he was not to question things in battle. So he left this up to his senses and took action.
The enemy was not in front of him, so what would he do?
He changed course.
He did not look back. He kept his back turned toward the forest while he shifted position with a rapid left slide.
A bullet passed through the spot he had just abandoned.
It had come from the forest behind him.
But something seemed off to him. All the previous bullets had come from one direction, as if the enemy were fleeing into the empty air beyond that cliff, yet this shot came from the forest behind him.
…What kind of trickery is this!?
Just as he wondered that, he sensed a massive presence in the forest behind him.
He sensed more than just danger in this.
This time, he did turn around while reaching out into empty air.
He pulled a massive hammer out of thin air. Ether acceleration light erupted from the back end as he leaped forward and swung it down from above.
Just then, something flew toward him while blasting away the forest’s leaves.
That should not have been possible.
This was a pseudo-anti-ship cannon’s ether shell. But as he sent a powerful blow toward that blast…
…I get it!
He had figured out what the enemy was doing.
A moment later, his Golden Hammer crashed into the enemy shell.
The flying mass of metal ruptured.
The sound, appearance, and tactile feedback all told him he had destroyed it.
But then he and his Golden Hammer were blasted back into the empty night sky.
The ether shell’s spell portion had an air explosion effect.
The Golden Hammer’s striking divine protection could have negated a bursting, a normal explosion, or a shockwave, but this was different.
It was an air explosion. And if the enemy had set this up…
He realized he had been completely set up as he was blasted into the empty air.
Yoshiyasu used Righteousness’s side head sight device to check on the explosion she heard in the distance.
A battle had begun in eastern Bousou beyond the ridgeline.
She did not know who was fighting who. If it was Ookubo’s group, then why had she heard a cannon blast in a ground battle?
She did not know, but now was not the time to worry about that.
She was facing an enemy of her own in a forest clearing on the western-facing slope.
“So you sent Filial Piety here, Konishi Yukinaga.”
“Testament,” replied her opponent.
Filial Piety was a head taller than originally thanks to the combined parts and Konishi stood on its shoulder.
She had gravity ballast spells opened across her body to hold herself in place and control sign frames were held in her palms. She also had a sign frame next to her with some kind of counter that was in constant motion.
“Would you have preferred Tokishige? Should I call for her instead?”
“No, someone else has business with her.”
The 6th Special Duty Officer had a connection there dating back more than a decade. That was a lot longer than Yoshiyasu’s own connection.
Of course, such things should not be judged solely by time. However…
“Do you want to avoid battling a fellow Satomi fighter?”
“I doubt we would be able to hold back against each other.”
Konishi sounded confused, so Yoshiyasu explained.
“I would get mad at her for siding with the enemy and she would get mad at me for abandoning them to do something else.”
“What have you been doing anyway?”
“I seem to recall eating rice treats at a Far Eastern rice-producing region, observing a fox and a salmon, and more recently visiting a hot spring for karaoke and ping pong.”
“Okay, I don’t think anyone can blame her for kicking your ass now.”
Yoshiyasu had to agree. But the hot spring part had only happened yesterday. If not for that, she felt like it had all been fairly normal.
“Well, governments in exile tend to have a lot of fun like that. I’ll just have to tell her it’s better than becoming a puppet.”
“Didn’t you, though?”
“No, it isn’t possible to be a puppet for them.”
“It isn’t possible?”
“Judge.” Yoshiyasu nodded. “Not as long as you’re sane. Besides, no one’s better than them at filling you with an urge to speak up. If you tried to be a puppet for them, the unfair treatment would lead to so much stress you’d go insane and die.”
“…Can I ask one thing?”
“Were you thinking letting a group like that take over the world would be a bad idea?”
“Judge. Don’t worry about that. During peacetime, they stick to cannibalizing their own. The way I see it, external stimuli are the most dangerous thing with them. …In other words, if the world refuses to be peaceful, they’ll go around harassing everyone as a form of world domination.”
“I never knew world domination could sound so unambitious.”
The problem was how accurate it was. And during her time as a part of their group…
…As long as I speak up, I can live pretty stress free.
That group would dodge things, but they generally did not put up any defenses.
But she had made it this far with them.
“Now, then.” Yoshiyasu placed a hand on the short swords at Righteousness’s hips. “Are you sure you want to do this? Using autonomous mode will reduce the reaction speed quite a bit.”
“Oh, I don’t mind at all. After all, it’s running on divine protections right now.”
Several sign frames opened around Filial Piety. They were Catholic ones.
“According to the Testament, Konishi Yukinaga was a Catholic Tsirhc commander.” A name with an arrow symbol appeared in front of her. “The Catholic Saint Sebastian is the saint of combat skill, especially those using the bow and arrow. In the Catholic Spell Treasury, he is in charge of the high-level spells of that type.”
“So you reworked the autonomous program using combat divine protections to create something like a large combat automaton?”
“Testament. So this thing is directly linked to a saint’s soul. I can keep using the power-up spells as long as my money lasts. And that will provide the reaction speeds needed to overpower the average god of war pilot.”
Yoshiyasu muttered a comment on that.
“That’s really not playing fair. You all need to stop doing that kind of thing.”
Yoshiyasu could tell she was glaring inside of Righteousness.
“Do you like strengthening yourself with money?”
“You know…if you’re going to go down that route, what are those god of war parts and equipment? You’re strengthening yourself with money as much as I am.”
“These are consumable goods,” replied Yoshiyasu. “Someone as rich as you probably wouldn’t understand, but my storage fees and living expenses have doubled since going to Musashi. The Asama Shrine has given me a loan, but I nearly made a serious mistake by going to these weird merchants for financial help. How weird are they? Let’s just say they’re going to be producing thick noodles pretty soon. Anyway, I need to have a full set of parts no matter what, so I’ve had to massage some numbers…no, I mean work to cut back on some expenses lately. And yet in Tale of the Eight Dog Idols, a game based on Satomi’s recent situation, I can easily pay for upgraded god of war parts to increase my stats. Besides, you need to start from the very foundation if you want to power up your god of war. You can’t just replace parts willy-nilly like that. …And what is with all those flashy weapons? Do you get what I’m saying!?”
“I get that you’re poor and mad about it.”
“Don’t call the representative of a nation poor!”
Me: “I know, right? Some people have no manners, Flatty.”
Righteousness: “You’re no better!!”
“Well, whatever,” said Yoshiyasu with a nonexistent sigh within Righteousness. “I will be taking Satomi back.”
Konishi smiled at that.
“I imagine it will be returned to you after summer break regardless.”
“You mean after the Honnouji Incident is complete and P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. have established a new order?”
Konishi had no change of expression for that. However…
“You really are an enemy.”
“Do not underestimate me, do not look down on me…and do not forget me, usurper.” Yoshiyasu’s tone sank as she voiced her thoughts. “I have always been your enemy.”
She had Righteousness prepare to fight and leaned forward to take a quick first step.
“You can figure out the rest after I defeat you.”
With that, she launched herself forward.
Munenori heard an explosion of air in the distance.
He realized he had screwed up because the enemy’s cannon blast had not been meant to destroy him.
His Golden Hammer could handle an explosion or impact. That was only a “hunter chance”.
But an explosive blast of air was different. The pressure overpowered his hammer and he was thrown from the ground.
There was nothing to support him in the air. After blasted from the cliff, he realized the enemy must have known a lot about him.
…Did she know what weapon I use, goddammit!?
It was shame rather than anger that drew out his old self.
He was a ninja samurai and he had recently used his Golden Hammer when fighting Sanada’s Isa. This meant records of that battle must have made their way to Hashiba.
That was Sanada for you. But as a ninja himself…
He shouted and tried to resist.
There was nothing to grab onto in the air, so he had to prepare for a fall. This was a ground battle, so he had not brought any of the fall control spell charms that were standard on the Musashi. His standard divine protections would cushion his landing, but how much would that gain him?
Should he throw in some substitutions to increase the cushioning coefficient? And either way…
…There’s no time.
“Oh? Now this is unusual.”
He heard a female voice out of nowhere and then he bounced in midair.
He bounced straight up. He had not felt any kind of impact, but his entire body had bounced upwards without warning.
Munenori was only aware of his moving field of vision. He felt no pain or recoil, yet his falling vision had bounced back up toward the heavens at some point.
How had that happened?
He had not figured anything out as his rising body lost its speed.
He was going to fall again. A gentle falling speed grabbed at his body, but then…
“Are you okay? And who are you?”
He was caught in midair by a large hand.
He looked over to see a boy running up the cliff face and a girl held in his arms.
The girl had two giant prosthetic arms.
“The Tachibana Couple!”
Gin nodded at the boy who fell from the sky and asked her question again.
“Judge. Who are you?”
“J-judge! I am…”
He hesitated for a moment, but then he abandoned all hesitation and looked straight at her.
“I am Yagyuu Munenori! I work as Ookubo Nagayasu’s bodyguard!”
“Is that so?” said Muneshige while taking long strides up the cliff. “In that case, you must want to hurry back.”
Munenori gasped at that. But when he responded…
“That will be a ‘judge’ from us as well. Let us hurry. Besides…”
His vision spun widely around.
They had arrived at the top of the cliff and Gin saw something from Muneshige’s arms.
It was in the forest up ahead.
“That would be an enemy, Master Muneshige.”
Some figures were approaching them in that forest.
Those enemy warriors were a commando unit sent from their base as a diversion and to destroy whatever forces they could.
“What do you think, Gin?”
“This unit appears to have only just arrived. …Most likely, whoever Master Yagyuu was fighting realized we were approaching and called them here.”
“I see. In that case…”
“Judge,” replied Gin. “This is our enemy. …Master Yagyuu, take this time to heal your injuries.”
“Huh? I’ve sealed up my injuries.”
“I said to take this time to heal your injuries.”
Healing injuries as soon as possible was Gin’s policy. After all, once you reached the name inheritor level, it was perfectly normal to have an arm or two cut off in a simple love confession. It happened to me, after all. But if you ignore that kind of injury while the confession has your pulse elevated, you will die, won’t you?
Whether or not he knew what she was thinking, Muneshige smiled.
“Ha ha ha. You’re so kind, Gin.”
“Master Muneshige…I am not sure you should praise me in front of others like that.”
Why was Yagyuu Munenori giving them such a puzzled look?
At any rate, Muneshige set her down on the ground and took a step forward.
A gunshot rang from the forest, but he dodged it by looking back toward her.
“Now, Gin, Sir Yagyuu, I will be going on ahead, so follow after me however you can.”
“Huh? What do you mean however I can?”
Gin tilted her head at Yagyuu Munenori’s question.
“He means to figure it out based on the situation. What is so confusing about that?”
In other words…
“It is like a recipe telling you to use a pinch of salt.”
Gin then looked at the boy’s body.
“Now, go ahead and heal yourself however you can.”
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